Top-Shelf Tip No. 156:

"Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust."

Zig Ziglar

How Lead Nurturing Leads To Sales

There is often the misperception in marketing that more leads will equal more sales. That's not necessarily true if your leads are not ready to buy or they aren't "marketing qualified."

Lead nurturing is term used to describe a way to take potential customers and turn them into viable leads that are ready to make a buying decision.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we're sharing four key steps to lead nurturing that drives leads to sales, from Brian Carroll, CEO and founder of markempa.

First, let's clarify. Lead nurturing is not following up every few months to find out if a prospect is ready to buy yet. True nurturing involves a sometimes long and circuitous path, but along the way, you'll be building long, meaningful and trust-filled relationships with the right people in targeted accounts.

1. Step in your customers' shoes to build a buyer journey map. The first step on that path to success is to start thinking like a customer. After you've gained a solid understanding, build your customer journey map—the story of the client's experience from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship. This includes:

  • What are they doing? (buyer's actions such as reviewing proposals, getting a demo, etc.)
  • What are they thinking? (how do I get this done?)
  • How are they feeling? Stressed out? Curious? Excited?

Identify questions customers have at each stage of the journey:

  • How will this product or service help my company?
  • Is this worth the hassle of trying to get my team on board to solve this problem? Why so?
  • Will their solution work? Can they prove it?
  • Is there another company out there that is better?
  • Is the company credible?
  • Can we afford it?

Help prospects find the answers to these questions, and you'll remind them of the benefits of working with you. You're creating value by giving them useful information in digestible, bite-sized chunks.

2. Plan your lead nurturing path with a focus on progression. Invest as much in forming creative and content for lead progression as you do for lead capture. I've seen companies spend most of their budget getting people to raise their hands but not enough toward progression.

The goal of lead nurturing is to help progress leads from initial interest toward purchase intent. The tactics employed, and the frequency of touches will depend on the solutions you sell and the buying cycle of the prospect. You need to create different lead nurturing tracks based on demographic criteria, such as size, industry, role in the buying process and more.

3. Walk the path with your customer. In a complex sale, the journey can be long and challenging to help people move from initial interest to purchase intent. Your only job is to make certain you nourish your customer along the way and guide them with a meaningful compass toward the right and best decision for their needs. Think of your marketing team as trail guides who will need to point out all the sights along the way that are useful in the decision-making process.

By providing valuable education and information to potential clients up front, you become a trusted advisor. You are then perceived to be an expert. Make your marketing program's single point of focus be to develop trust, and your business will become more profitable and less reliant on competing on price.

4. Keep walking the journey. As startling as it may seem, recent research (and even studies from 20 years ago) shows that longer-term leads (future opportunities) that are often ignored by salespeople represent almost 40 to 70 percent of potential sales. Research compiled by the MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report shows that marketing departments with a lead nurturing campaign reported a 45 percent higher ROI than marketing departments that did not utilize a lead nurturing track.

If inquiries are directly passed on to salespeople without being nurtured or qualified, this could mean a loss of the sale. Develop your customer journey and provide the right type of education and contact at critical points along the path.

Source: Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, a company helping companies convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is also the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, and the B2B Lead Blog which is read by thousands each week.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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